A Chicago couple has enjoyed weekly date nights at a distance for the past six weeks as their family grows, proving their love has no bounds amid the pandemic.
Shona Moeller, six months pregnant, has been on bed rest at AMITA Health Adventist Medical Center in Hinsdale since April 13, awaiting the birth of her first child. After her water broke prematurely a month ago in March, Moeller and her husband Bob Conlin feared the worst: that their baby would not make it. But their son has kept growing and now shows signs of becoming a healthy boy, said Conlin in a recent Facebook video update.
"He is growing and from what we can tell and see is healthy," Conlin said. "He is meeting all of his growth metrics. He is a little small but most premies are. From what we can tell, he is doing great."
Conlin, a relationship coach and author who owns his own company, is not able to visit his wife in the hospital because of COVID-19 restrictions. That's what propelled him to start bringing date nights to his wife at the hospital as a way to help their uncertain life a little more certain. Once a week, he sits outside the hospital window and talks to Moeller via FaceTime, who can also see him from her window. They eat a meal together that he orders from their favorite local restaurant and spend time as if they were just a few inches apart.
"In this time where I’m by myself, every gesture feels so monumental and lovely and sweet," she told Good Morning America about her husband's gesture. "It felt like he had traveled the world to come see me because it meant so much."
Conlin also regularly talks with his wife and takes part in all of the nurse appointments virtually, so to know the progress of his child and hear his heartbeat.
Conlin's act of love has since gone viral, as well as the story of the couple's son Forest. Their Doula started a GoFundMe page to share the couple's story and raise funds for the lengthy NICU and hospital stay, to help meet some of the couple's living expenses and assist in the heavy medical care Forest will need once born, which Conlin said could be any minute. Since the funding's creation April 20, it has raised over $16,000, almost to its goal of $25,000.
The couple has been flooded with support from various means, including friends, family and strangers. Saturday marked the first day Moeller was able to take walk in the hospital's garden since being admitted, her husband shared on Facebook.
"All we’ve done is love each other and share it as best as we can in such a difficult time," he wrote. "All in service of having more people pray for and support our little baby Forest."
Conlin has kept his network updated through social media posts and videos, and said he is used to sharing his life experiences openly to connect with others and not hide difficult parts of life.
"I share my heart pretty openly, I share my vulnerability pretty openly, probably because I was so shut down and angry for the first 20 years of my life," he said on Facebook.
Although the pandemic has added layers of stress to the couple's pregnancy, Conlin is making the best of it and said he hopes his story brings about some deserved hope into the world right now.
"There is so much going on right now and I think what our story is providing a glimpse of hope and goodness — hoping that something is going to come out of all this and we are going to be better for it on the other end," he said. "That's the gift that Forest is giving me as his father, is to remember that even in the hardest times, there is always hope."
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